From its 1978 opening in New York City, Via Brasil Steakhouse has withstood the test of time and critics to bring the churrascaria tradition to diners on both ends of the country. At the stately Las Vegas restaurant, South American traditions come through not only in the more than 18 meats that grace tables but also in the way each one is prepared and served. The special churrascaria cooking traces its origins to southern Brazil's gauchos, who wound down their long days of herding cattle on the Pampas by roasting cuts of beef over crackling fire pits and writing up formal business proposals for opening steak houses in America. Today, chefs continue that tradition by roasting slabs of meat on rotisserie grills, then slicing each one tableside in order to give diners the exact cuts and temperatures they desire.
Inside the restaurant, an opulent surrounding of marble columns and countertops, floral centerpieces, and huge, sunny windows complement smartly dressed servers as they tote skewers to tables and carve off tender morsels of top sirloin, leg of lamb, and salmon. Selections from 16 side dishes garnish each savory cut of meat with exotic ingredients such as hearts of palm and yucca fries, and a salad bar urges diners to help themselves to more than 30 unique recipes. To complement the feasts, an ample wine cellar and a resident sommelier help diners bring out the rich flavors of each dish with expert advice on the dozens of bottles from around the world.
Modeled after old-fashioned, gaucho-style spit-roasts, Pampas Brazilian Grille sates hungers with premium flame-spun meats, seafood, and veggies. At each table, Pampas's gauchos carve helpings of barbecued pork, Brazilian sausage, brontosaur femur, and other proteins for partakers of the meat rodizio. The servers add fresh seafood of the day for the surf and turf rodizio, or avoid animal products altogether in the veggie version. The large, open dining room has a soft-lit ambiance that proves ideal for all manner of social mealtime rendezvous or dinner dates with imaginary friends. Pampas also lords over a deep vault of wines wrangled from around the globe, ready to grace glasses with flavorful pours and appealing hues.
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Ten years ago, executive-chef Craig “Andy” Beardslee and pal Johnny Rivera set out to bring country-style cooking to an urban environment. Today, the duo’s award-winning eatery Hash House A Go Go has expanded from its original San Diego home into five Vegas locations, including a spot inside The M Resort Spa & Casino Las Vegas. Drawing from his work with agriculture and livestock, chef Beardslee kicks up house-made farm favorites, adding innovative flavors to fried chicken, french toast, and meatloaf recipes. The generously portioned entrees pair well with creative concoctions, such as a BLT bloody mary, a far more successful drink than its predecessor, the grilled-cheese martini.
The feeling of relaxation begins as you drive toward Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa which offers majestic views of Lake Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert. The expansive spa includes 24 treatment areas, where the staff performs Italian-inspired services using botanical ingredients. Couples destress in a side-by-side Mi Amore massage, and the napoli espresso body treatment exfoliates skin with finely ground coffee beans and volcanic pumice. During the Rejuvenator pedicure, feet drink in the fragrant essences of wild sage, lavender, and mint.
The Healing Waters area promotes tranquility with a candlelit whirlpool and soothing eucalyptus steam room. The spa also boasts an Essence of Ravella Aromatherapy Blend Bar, where guests can create their own essential-oil-rich lotions, sugar scrubs, and body butters to use on their skin or as sweet-smelling bicycle grease.
Bertolucci Brazilian Steakhouse recently debuted a traditional "rodízio" dinner service. If you don't know what that means, well, you're in for a treat. Commonly found in Brazil, rodízio roughly means "all-you-can-eat"; servers bring skewers of meat to the table throughout the meal, stopping only when you signal that you're done. And who knows when that will be, because it's hard to say no to options that include top sirloin, bacon-wrapped chicken, and tender leg of lamb. The rodízio service only contributes to what's already a lively atmosphere; owner and chef Humberto Bertolucci can sometimes be heard entertaining diners on a karaoke system.